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Open Access Writing as righting: Truth and reconciliation, poetics, and new geo‐graphing in colonial Canada

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This paper is anchored in two recent and concurrent openings, openings that offer opportunities for geographers to consider new modes of engaging colonial violence. The first opening is the release, in Canada, of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's final report and calls to action. By demanding new types of settler‐subject attention to Indigenous peoples and places, it opens new spaces for extending reflection about anti‐Indigenous racism and colonial violence in Canadian consciousness. The second opening is geography's growing uptake of creative and humanities‐informed theories and practices. These manifest in new knowledges and practices with consequent possibilities for addressing colonial violence. I consider these two openings first by proposing changes to conversations about settler‐normalized violences lived by Indigenous peoples, and, second by engaging poets working to radically re/configure language and written expression. Specifically, the paper ends with a call for geographers—particularly non‐Indigenous settler geographers—to rethink ways (and forms) by which we produce knowledge, especially about colonialism and Indigenous geographies and especially in and through writing practices. The paper is experimental in form, meant to disrupt easy uptake or digestion of ideas that must remain—for settler subjects—fundamentally ragged, upsetting, and always beyond conclusion, coherence, or closure. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission calls for new actions to address Canada's colonial history and colonial present; geographers are implicated in this call. Undertaking logical, linear, or even coherent work about colonial violence risks reproducing it by trying to make sense of and bring closure to something that should, for settler Canadians, remain raw and unsettled. Poetry offers a way of writing about colonial violence by opening new “language‐spaces,” new geo‐graphing possibilities, that refuse existing narratives about colonialism.

Cet article est ancré dans deux « circonstances » récentes et concurrentes qui offrent aux géographes la possibilité d'envisager de nouvelles façons d'aborder la violence coloniale. La première circonstance est la publication, au Canada, du rapport final de la Commission de vérité et de réconciliation et ses appels à l'action. En demandant de nouveaux types d'attention colon‐sujet aux lieux et aux peuples autochtones, elle ouvre de nouveaux espaces pour étendre la réflexion au sujet du racisme anti‐autochtone et de la violence coloniale dans la conscience canadienne. La seconde circonstance est l'adoption croissante des théories et des pratiques issues des sciences humaines et créatives de la géographie. Celles‐ci se manifestent dans de nouvelles connaissances et de nouvelles pratiques avec les possibilités conséquentes d'aborder la violence coloniale. J'examine ces deux circonstances d'abord en proposant des changements aux débats à propos des violences normalisées par les colons qui sont vécues par les Autochtones et, ensuite, en référence à des poètes qui s'efforcent de configurer ou reconfigurer radicalement la langue et l'expression écrite. Plus particulièrement, l'article se termine par un appel aux géographes, particulièrement les géographes des colons non autochtones, afin de repenser les façons (et les formes) grâce auxquelles nous produisons des connaissances, particulièrement au sujet du colonialisme et des géographies autochtones et particulièrement dans et à travers les pratiques d'écriture. Cet article est expérimental dans sa forme, il vise à perturber l'adoption ou la digestion facile d'idées qui doivent demeurer, pour les sujets coloniaux, fondamentalement dépenaillées, troublantes et toujours au‐delà de la conclusion, de la cohérence ou de la fermeture.
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Keywords: feminist anti‐racist indigenous geographies; geohumanities; géographies autochtones antiracistes féministes; poetry; poésie; sciences humaines de la géographie; truth and reconciliation; vérité et réconciliation

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2017

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